Egyptian students clash as Mursi turmoil spreads to campuses

September 29, 2013

CAIRO (Reuters) - Rival groups of students, some armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, clashed in Egypt on Sunday, state media and security sources said, as violence triggered by the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi spread to universities.

At least 29 people were wounded in fighting between groups for and against the ousted Islamist leader at at least three campuses, said the reports.

Egypt has been gripped by turmoil since the army ousted Mursi on July 3 after mass protests against his rule, prompting his Muslim Brotherhood to take to the streets.

A security crackdown has severely restricted the Brotherhood's activities and pro-Mursi students have started rallying in campuses, traditional hotbeds of Islamist and political activity.

They met their first significant opposition on Sunday when groups supporting and opposing Mursi clashed at Cairo's Ain Shams University, leaving at least 12 wounded, security sources said.

Fifteen people were wounded when rival students at Zagazig University, some armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, fought, the state news agency said.

State-owned newspaper Al Ahram said unidentified gunmen shot at students marching and shouting anti-army slogans in the city northeast of Cairo where Mursi taught engineering. It did not say whether anyone was hit.

Two people were wounded in clashes at a university in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, sources said.

The Brotherhood is facing one of the toughest crackdowns in its 85-year history.

Many of its top leaders were arrested and hundreds of members were killed when security forces crushed protest sit-in camps in Cairo in August.

The latest blow to the Middle East's oldest Islamist movement came last week, when a court banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.

The army has promised that a political roadmap will lead to elections in the Arab world's most populous country.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said at the United Nations on Saturday the transitional phase of government in Egypt should end "by next spring", when leaders appointed after the army ousted Mursi would be replaced.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was expected to visit Egypt this week, said an EU official.

Ashton, who on a previous visit after the army takeover tried but failed to defuse tensions, will meet leaders of the interim government, including army chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the state news agency said.

(Writing by Michael Georgy)